Meet the island's most experienced mountain professionals.
Jan has been guiding and teaching all over the world for coming on 40 years. He spent a good half of that time exploring and guiding in the Himalayan region, with six years living in Nepal and 11 years running a helicopter skiing operation in northern India. From a circumnavigation of Denali and a ski traverse of the Wrangle St. Elias, to an ascent of Mount Asgard in the Canadian arctic and a solo summit on Pumori (7161m) in the Nepal Himalaya, his personal expeditions have taken him far and wide. Back at home on Vancouver Island he’s guided most of the major island peaks, authored a number of first ascents and taught countless islanders rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and avalanche skills. Jan started Island Alpine Guides in 2006 and has since nurtured it into the island's premier mountain school and guide service. He is also a Guide and Mountain Safety Manager for Bella Coola Helisports, a heliskiing operation in the the BC Coast Range. Though he’s getting to be a little long in the tooth, he intends to keep on sharing his love of the mountains with his students and guests for many years to come.
By age three, Helene was already roaming Austria’s Alps with her mountain guide father, who introduced her to mountaineering, spelunking, and the joys of sliding on snow on various planks. This early initiation eventually led her to become Austria’s first female IFMGA-certified mountain guide in 1988, beginning a career that has now spanned over 36 years.
A life-long commitment to mountain exploration and guiding has resulted in a wealth of experiences, though perhaps most notable are the 33 winters Helene has spent as a heli-ski guide across BC and the Yukon. She has also spent time instructing CSGA Level 2 Ski Guide courses, and is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association and ACMG. A degree in Tourism Management (1979-1981) from Klessheim (Tourism College) in Salzburg, Austria, has given her a well-rounded perspective of the outdoor tourism industry, and ultimately led her to create Canadian Adventure Tours Inc. in 1992. Helene’s understanding of team environments and individual potential make her a memorable speaker, and an inspiring instructor and guide. The word “can’t” has never been part of her vocabulary, despite a fluency in five languages. We’re thrilled to have Helene on the IAG team!
ACMG Rock Guide Dane Schellenberg has just arrived in the Comox Valley (July 2023) and is ready to share his skills! Dane has climbed all over the world, but calls the Eastern Himalayas in China his home base. He has established multi-pitch traditional routes on limestone, granite, gneiss, and sandstone, as well as hundreds of first ascents of boulder problems and sport climbs across Asia, Oceania, and North America. He recently established the ground-up first ascent of one of the longest rock climbing routes in China with The Allegory of the Caves (Grade IV, 5.11c, 17 pitches) in the Hengduan mountain range of China. He has written two climbing guidebooks in China and contributed to numerous other books. Dane's love affair with climbing began in his early teenage years in the Canadian Rockies and led to him spending several seasons climbing and guiding in BC's west coast. There is an infectious energy that emanates from Dane as he imparts his knowledge and skills to aspiring climbers. Teaching others how to safely play in the mountains is possibly his favorite thing in the world and his enthusiasm is hard to contain. Dane is an ACMG Rock Guide who has been guiding and teaching guests how to climb, both in English and Mandarin, for over 15 years. When you embark on a climbing adventure with Dane, you can expect more than just a guide. You will gain a mentor, a friend, and a source of inspiration. His love for the sport and his genuine enthusiasm are contagious, igniting a fire within each climber he encounters. We're excited to welcome Dane to the IAG team and to our community for the remainder of the 2023 climbing season!
Nate comes to the IAG team as an experienced military mountaineering instructor; having spent 10 years teaching and leading in the mountains with the Canadian Forces. Currently he is a professional Search and Rescue Technician, residing in the Comox Valley. Nate is one of three Canadian Forces search and rescue technicians who is fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada. He also trains SAR Techs at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue and is responsible for the Rope Rescue Technician training that we deliver to GSAR teams as one of the Emergency BC licensed providers of these courses. He is a Primary Care Paramedic, and also works at a Cat Skiing Operation for a couple of weeks each winter. He is a CSIA ski instructor and one of our AST course instructors. He enjoys teaching motivated people the skills to building safer and more enjoyable experiences in the mountains.
Rob brings more than 20 years of professional Mountain Operations and Mountain Rescue experience to the IAG team. He recently completed a 29-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces - both with the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. For 18 years of his military career, Rob was an RCAF Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) and instructed at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue (CFSSAR). Along with his many years service as a SAR Tech, Rob has been employed as a Paramedic with BC Ambulance, worked as a ski patroller, has been an expedition leader for multiple trips around Canada, the Arctic, Mt Logan, the Rockies, and in the BC Coastal Ranges. Rob is an ACMG certified Hiking Guide and Via Ferrata Guide, and Canadian Avalanche Association certified Avalanche Technician. Rob is an instructor/examiner on our Emergency BC Rope Rescue Technician courses as well as teaching and guiding in our hiking and avalanche skills training programs. He really enjoys traveling in wild places around the planet, spending time in the mountains and being able to share these things. His extensive experience and calm, steady demeanor make him an ideal instructor and guide.
Coming from a Family of Mountain Guides in the Alps, Stephan was naturally pulled to the mountains starting to ski and climb at the age two. He spent the last 14 years in Squamish where he worked full time as a paramedic and feels lucky to have been part of the Whistler Pro Ski Patrol team and Squamish Search and Rescue. These roles have allowed him to perfect his skills in rope rescue and avalanche rescue and as an avalanche technician. He also has extensive experience in helicopter long line rescue and was Squamish SAR's longline rescue trainer/coordinator. Stephan is certified as a paramedic, a Level 2 forecaster with the Canadian Avalanche Association and is an ACMG Apprentice Rock Guide. He's now working as a paramedic in the Comox Valley and looking forward exploring the crags, Ice climbing and backcountry skiing in his new home on the island and to spending time with his family in the Island Alps. We're delighted to have Stephan joining our team!
Originally from a flat farming area in southeast England, Jordan's first love for the outdoors started when he found a free copy of Captain Scott's 'Exploration of Antarctica' at a local book swap. His love and passion for wild places has only intensified each year since. After completing an Honours degree in Outdoor Education at the University of Derby, Jordan spent the next 3 years traveling the globe with the hope of finding a place to call home that would meet all of his outdoor pursuit dreams. He originally came to Canada for a short, sweet 6 months, but his love for BC propelled his desire to live here permanently. Now 10 years later, he remains in awe of what BC and Vancouver Island has to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Jordan has been working as a guide for the past 6 years in Canada. In the shoulder season, he spends his time exploring the outdoors by means of self-propelled modalities, with climbing and Splitboarding adventures high on the personal goal list. Jordan is a certified ACMG-Hiking Guide and apprentice rock guide. He is an avalanche practitioner member with the Canadian Avalanche Association, and an Emergency Medical Responder. Jordan teaches and guides in our avalanche skills training programs, our rock climbing programs and all of our hiking programs at Hike Vancouver Island. If he is not in the mountains, Jordan can be found rummaging through old books in thrift stores on the hunt for timeless and inspiring recounts of other people's journeys in the mountains.
Andrew began climbing in 1998 along Colorado's Front Range and began guiding in 2004, both in Colorado and North Carolina. He is a member of both the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and is an examiner for the former. A long-time Colorado resident, he now lives in Squamish and finds himself guiding in the Sea to Sky, the Central Coast and with IAG on Vancouver Island. Andrew's easy manner and quiet competence make him a great person to spend time in the mountains with.
Graeme’s love of wild spaces began at an early age camping with his family and exploring Western Canada and the Yukon. His own explorations continued across Western North America, South America, the UK and Africa. For sixteen years, Graeme worked with Outward Bound Canada, starting as an instructor and later as manager of their Western Canada operations. He also works with a Victoria area private school Outdoor Ed program, and fills the time between teaching and guiding with work as a carpenter. Graeme is often noted for his calming and level-headed presence in the mountains. He enjoys coaching individuals towards self-reliance, and always does his best to ensure everyone has a great day out. Graeme is a year-round fixture on the IAG team, and is well-versed on rock, snow, and ice.
Joe is a Kootenay-raised ACMG Ski Guide who now calls Cumberland home. Over the last 15 years, he has worked for many heli, snowcat and ski touring lodges across BC and the Rockies. He loves that guiding gives him the opportunity to facilitate unique experiences for his guests, and gets excited about exploring new terrain. In a previous life Joe was a professional mountain bike athlete, which led him to ride in many far flung locales for photo shoots and competitions such as Red Bull Rampage. Joe also has a business degree with a marketing communications focus, and when he’s not guiding he works in digital marketing, managing teams designing and developing websites. Joe brings a level of excellence to everything he does, and is a true professional in the field.
Sofia was a Swedish law school student turned Austrian ski instructor - that is now an ACMG certified Hiking Guide and an ACMG certified Apprentice Ski Guide in Canada! Sofia grew up hiking and skiing with guides all over Europe but it wasn’t until she ended up in Fernie B.C. to study adventure tourism years later that she felt like a guiding career was attainable to her. For the past decade she has worked as a guide at various backcountry lodges around B.C., in Alaska, and with various film teams on expeditions. Sofia loves the first look at new terrain and brings a passionate and lighthearted approach to exploring the outdoors. Her drive is to educate, enable, and engage people - so that they can explore the outdoors with more confidence and sustainably on their own. Sofia also runs a non-for-profit speaker series to help make education affordable to all, is on the board of directors with the Canadian Avalanche Association and is a certified Emergency Medical Responder.
Bill is a passionate skier and climber. Like many of our instructors, a love of the mountains has guided his life path from an early age, and he is keen to share that passion with others. This desire ultimately led him to pursue a teaching degree, and he has been a long-time instructor for the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program at Strathcona Park Lodge. Decades of teaching and working professionally in the outdoor field have left him with a well developed set of skills. In winters he is a professional avalanche forecaster for Mount Washington, and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin, which has provided him with an intimate knowledge of the avalanche game. Bill is also a member of the Canadian Ski Guides Association and spends part of his winters guiding at Cat and Heli Skiing operations. When he's not busy guiding, forecasting, and raising a kid, Bill is also an exceptional AST1 instructor on the IAG team.
Since 1985 Niko has provided avalanche education in the US, Canada and internationally. He is a Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. Over the years Niko has stood out as an innovator in avalanche education in North America. Niko Specializes in Avalanche Search and Rescue courses for members and leaders of the BC Provincial Emergency Program and snowmobile specific courses. He’s also worked with IAG in developing curriculum and delivering avalanche training for Canadian Airforce search and rescue technicians.
Klemen was born in Kamnik, Slovenia. Growing up in the Alps, he started skiing and hiking as soon as he could walk. He has achieved many first accents in the Slovenian Alps. Motivated by his desire to travel he has climbed around the world: Alaska, Canada, South America's Andes and the Karakoram of Pakistan. Shifting his focus to teaching, he became a certified IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2006. His hobbies include developing new climbing areas, travelling and photography. He is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and Slovenian.
Alex loves moving through the mountains any way he can. As one of the three Canadian Forces Search and Rescue (SAR) Technicians fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada, he now trains SAR Technicians in various disciplines, from medical skills to parachuting. He is passionate about teaching, learning, and all things mountain related, making him the perfect instructor for IAG’s AST1, Navigation and Wilderness Survival courses. He is a notably kind and patient teacher with a wide-range of knowledge and experience. A self-professed renaissance man, Alex is always looking for the next thing to learn.
Originally from Canmore, Alberta, Christine was first introduced to the idea of guiding through a high school outdoor education program. She always knew she wasn’t cut out for an “inside job,” but it wasn’t until 2010, after a detour in photojournalism, that she committed to the path of becoming an ACMG-certified guide -- a path that has been full of almost daily highlights. Today, she is the first (and currently the only) female to pass an ACMG Ski Guide exam on a splitboard. She is also an ACMG-certified Hiking Guide, a CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor and a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. While Christine is adamant that she is incapable of sitting still, her clients often note her calm approach to teaching. She strives to create a low pressure environment for learning and exploring, while still supporting clients in their goals. After 16 years in the Sea to Sky region, Christine recently moved to Ucluelet and is excited to explore her new zone.